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THIS chapter must so inevitably cause offence that a few words
of introduction seem called for.
It is criticism of the Hindu religion, or rather, the groups of
religions, philosophies and cultures which to-day parade them-
selves under the wide banners of Hinduism, So much, it would
be ridiculous to deny. But it most certainly is not an attack on
the Indian character or the Indian peoples.
There is no colour prejudice in this book; psychologically,
spiritually, and socially I am colour blind. There seem to me to
be no heights to which the Indian peoples might not rise, and by
heights I mean heights of character and -virtue, in the good old
Latin sense, as well as heights of intellect. India might have her
Wilberforces. her Florence Nightingales, her Father Damiens as
well as her Tagores and her Jagadish Boses. The fact that she is
so singularly weak in the type of selfless characters who brighten
the pages of Western history is not due to any flaw in the Indian
character; it is due to the deadening influence of Hinduism.
Hinduism as it is, not as it might be. It might be, or rather, have
been, anything; the original source was crystal clear and sprang
from high hills of the spirit. But the centuries have filled it with
mud and sediment till to-day it is a gigantic sluggish stream,
wandering through low and unhealthy valleys.
Of the many fine, truthful, unselfish Indians I met, hardly one
was a sincere Hindu. Almost all had shaken themselves free from
the influence of the drug.. .for drug it is. This was in no way
the result of British influence for most of them—though kindly
deposed to individual Britons—were intensely nationalist.
Xor was it the resti t of any tendency towards Christianity; having
rejected one religion they were in no hurry to adopt another. It
was simply that they were men of intrinsic virtue, men to whom
<3od—as He sometimes does—had given grace by nature.